BOSTON (AP) — The Providence Friars didn’t even know if they’d make it to the NCAA Tournament.

Now, they are a victory away from the first title in school history.

Noel Acciari and Mark Jankowski scored second-period goals, South Portland native Jon Gillies made 25 saves and Providence beat Nebraska-Omaha 4-1 on Thursday night in the Frozen Four to advance to the championship game for the second time in school history.

Trevor Mingoia and Nick Saracino also scored for the Friars (25-13-2). They will face the winner of the second semifinal between traditional powers Boston University (27-7-5) and North Dakota (29-9-3) in the championship game Saturday night at TD Garden.

“I think it talks about the parity in college hockey,” Providence coach Nate Leaman said. “We were a hundredth’s of a point away of not making it to the tournament and we felt like we had as great season. It used to be if you could get 20 wins, you were a lock into getting into the tournament. This year, we had 22 and we were a battle with Bowling Green (for the last spot).”

The Friars, making their fifth appearance in the final four, lost to RPI in the 1985 title game in Detroit.

“We came up here expecting to win so we treated this like the front nine,” Gillies said. “Refresh, regroup and get ready for Saturday.”

Jake Guentzel scored and Ryan Massa made 44 saves for Nebraska-Omaha (20-13-6). The Mavericks were making their first appearance in the Frozen Four.

“It was a very special year,” Mavericks freshman forward Jake Randolph said. “Starting with the seniors, I’ve never met such a great group of guys that were such leaders to us freshman and all of these younger guys. It was unbelievable. That’s the one word I can say – special.”

The Friars came in feeling as if they needed to prove they belonged after they lost to New Hampshire in the league tourney.

“We always knew. We were disappointed with our effort in the Hockey East quarterfinals and got beat by a good team,” Saracino said. “We wanted that second chance and we knew when we got that second chance that we were going to have to make the most of it.”

The Mavericks pulled Massa for an extra skater with 2 minutes left, and Saracino sealed it with an empty-net goal in the final minute.

The Friars had a number of chances early in the second, but Massa was able to keep them off the scoreboard until Acciari broke through midway through the second period.

Massa was unable to cover a loose puck in front of the crease when Saracino poked it away just before he was able to get his glove over it. The puck squirted to the other side of the crease, where Acciari was able to bang it into the open side of the net.

“He’s a great goalie. He competed really well,” Saracino said. “We got that one bounce and we went from there.”

Providence made it 2-0 on Jankowski’s goal a little less than 4 minutes later. Saracino fed a pass to Jankowski alone in front and he lifted a shot over Massa’s right pad from just outside the crease.

Guentzel made it 2-1 with 9:14 left in the third, but Mingoia scored 24 seconds later.

In a first period that featured lengthy stretches of continuous action, the Friars outshot the Mavericks 16-9 and had much better scoring chances. The best came with 7 1/2 minutes left when Mingoia broke in alone down the right wing, shifted to his backhand and slipped a shot past Massa, but the puck slid by the left post.

Friars winger Brandon Tanev also hit the outside of the post off a rebound with 6 minutes left.

The Mavericks had a late flurry in the first when Gillies made two stops — both on shots from the edge of the crease by Justin Parizek and Tyler Vesel.


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